be yourself

  Hold onto your hats a blog post not purely or solely about breast cancer coming your way.

Yes, really. And yes it’s sort of is about breast cancer, but it’s more about women in general.

First I have to credit Cathy Chester writer, blogger, new friend, inspirational fun person. Her blog is An Empowered Spirit and you should really check it out.

She had shared the above image on Facebook from GrowingBolder.

Wow when I am 70 I hope I look that good.

Lauren Hutton is and always has been a beautiful woman. One of the most beautiful things about her is she is always herself. We can all learn from that.

I know a lot of women post breast cancer who have embarked on plastic surgery and other appearance related procedures like tattoos . The thing about breast cancer that a lot of people never understand is how it does strike the core of our very femininity. Truly, I am not judging those of the pink sisterhood so to speak who choose this path. I just chose not to.

I chose not to go buy a new pair of breasts after my surgery and did not get a survivor’s tattoo (as in not the ones that look like nipples if you don’t have a nipple sparing surgery.) I live a slightly lop-sided existence basically.  I will be honest and some days I have a lot of issues with that. But some days I just have issues with being 51 and not in my 20s or 30s anymore.

Aging is not easy every day. Some days I look in the mirror and I see my father and grandmother staring back at me and it terrifies me. But then I see women of my own age group, younger, and older who go to ridiculous measures to remain societally and media worthy perfect. I feel sorry for them sometimes because in a lot of cases they look somewhat ridiculous.

I’m not saying that a woman should not take care of herself and I’m not really judging the lengths that some women go to take care of themselves. What I am saying is while we are taking all of that into consideration we should also take into consideration aging gracefully or should I say aging naturally.

Society and media put a lot of pressure on women. And I sort of have always chafed against some of that pressure.  That pressure leaves you feeling somewhat inadequate a lot of the time, and for what? You have to remember a lot of those faces staring back at you from women’s magazines might be dressed up like grownups but they’re actually teenagers.  I might as well face it my ass is not gonna look like a teenage ass ever again.  Sorry to be crass, but it’s the truth.

This is where does become about breast cancer again. I think anyone who has the disease now or has been treated for the disease will agree of how it just basically changes your outlook on everything. It also can make you feel insecure at times and just mentally exhausted. We have put our bodies through a lot to stay here on this planet and everything we know pre-cancer is not what we know now

If I’m honest with myself there are other days when I look in the mirror that I don’t see a relative staring back at me, I just don’t feel pretty or attractive. All I see are the little wrinkles here and there, the annoying way the gray and white hair threading through my once rich brown hair is a slightly different texture, and oh yes those lop-sided breasts. Sometimes it quite literally brings me to tears and then I feel so selfish for feeling that way.

My skin is dry a lot of the time now. But then I remember I don’t have any estrogen left in my body between tamoxifen and the hysterectomy.

All of these things occasionally create the perfect storm of a pity party of one. And then I see things like the Lauren Hutton quote that snap it back into perspective.

I am alive and when you get down to it? I don’t want to be 25 again. It was enough pressure then and I am sure it’s worse now.  Like it or not we age – it is quite literally a fact of life.

It’s all about attitude to an extent. Am I the prettiest? No but I never was. Am I the thinnest? No and again I never was – well I was for a brief period of time and well, I look like Skeletor.  It was distinctly unhealthy.

Appearance  in general has always been a battle for me because of my mother unfortunately.  I was raised on “are you going to wear that?” And “are you going to eat that?” And various and sundry comments worked into every conversation since I hit puberty and continuing today about appearance, and women who “let themselves go” and so on.  

I love my mother, don’t misunderstand me.  But I do wish there had been fewer flowing streams of consciousness from her over the years of how women look, and what they look like, and how much they weigh. Thanks to all of that I have had brief periods of time in my life where I have actually been able to look in the mirror and not be super judgmental of myself.  That has always been hard for me and breast cancer made it even harder.

Aging is a weird phenomenon. You go from being the youngest in the room to starting to be the oldest in the room. You wake up and you have the “holy crap when did that happen???”  moments.

At the end of the day I have this huge thing in my corner that I didn’t have when I was half my age: I’m actually happy.  A lot of women of any age can’t say that.

So ladies? Be yourselves.  Sometimes that takes a little doing to figure out and I consider it a work in progress for me personally, but I think it’s better and more healthy than the alternative.

Carry on!

About carla

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.
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1 Response to be yourself

  1. pointlessboob says:

    I identify with everything you’ve said in this post Carla. Being 25 again would be exhausting. I did not have a mastectomy, but I did have a hysterectomy. After two lumpectomies, my left boob looks like … well, not quite like a shark took a bite out of it, but almost. Women should be allowed to age naturally. Great post!

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